Habemus Praesidem

Last Updated: April 14, 2014By Tags:

Nanni Moretti the genial filmmaker from Rome is a multitasking kind of individual. He’s directed (The Caiman), worked as screenwriter (Habemus Papam) and produced extensively—read some early interviews of him and you’ll find out that he’s hedged his bets this way from the beginning of his career in cinema. And last night, Moretti landed the best job of all. But how will he make use of it?

According to a journalist friend based in Rome, Moretti is one of the most divisive figures to emerge out of Italian contemporary cinema. A staunch leftist, Moretti hasn’t hesitated to take a swipe at conservatives while Silvio Berlusconi was still in office. The Ecce Bombo filmmaker has been keeping a low profile of late, however.

What sort of legacy is being handed down to him?

The nomination of Robert de Niro as president of the Cannes jury last year brought with it major cachet but his selecting Tree of Life for the Palme D’Or will always remain a sad moment. Terrence Malick’s film was incomprehensible, hollow and one of the least-deserving Palme winners in recent memory, as far as I’m concerned. And the win at Cannes ultimately comes down to one person’s decision: the jury president.

It’s heartening that Moretti was nominated as president because the Moretti of today is the Moretti of yesterday: prolific and inventive at the same time, while helping to prop up films that advance the cause of cinema and not the studios–differences in sizes and approach between the European and American systems notwithstanding.

Many of us journalists have been left wanting for more in Cannes these last few years (what with a confluence of bad timing, recessions and filmmakers being held captive in their own countries), but with Moretti being brought in as jury president and a hoped-for selection of films that will brighten the outlook, this could be one of the best Cannes editions in a while.

Here’s hoping for it.

The Cannes Film Festival will take place May 16-27.

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